varies from a light brown color to almost black, are threatened by a disease known as white nose syndrome.The disease is caused by a fungus believed to have been inadver- tently brought to the area from Europe. “We think it was brought in their habitats by cave explorers,” stated Dr. Brian Hickey, Program leader, Education and Research scientist as well as head of the Bat project. “In essence, the fungus dehydrates the bats.” The fungus grows in humid cold environ- ments, such as the caves and mines where little brown bats hibernate. In Ontario, bat populations have dropped by more than 90 per cent. Dr. Hickey, himself a carpenter, has built several bat boxes, which he installed throughout Eastern Ontario. “They are made of wood and aren’t that big,” he said. “They used to attract bats out- side of caves. There’s no fungus in them.” Assessing fish health in the St. Lawrence River The River Institute recently received a Seed grant of $75,000 from the Ontario

Trillium Foundation. The grant will sup- port the development of a new Fish Health Assessment Laboratory, which, in turn, will enable researchers to evaluate the overall fish condition and impacts of contaminants on fish in the St. Lawrence River and other freshwater ecosystems. “This grant presents an exciting opportu- nity for growth at the River Institute”, stated Dr. Jeff Ridal, executive director and chief research scientist of the institute. “The Fish Health Assessment Laboratory will provide the tools needed to develop our ability to link fish health issues to environment changes. It also allows us to increase our capacity to provide lab services for in-house programs and provide services to others.” The laboratory will be headed by Dr. Dominique Lapointe, a research scientist. “Although fish labs exist in universities and government departments, there is no inde- pendent laboratory equipped to evaluate fish condition in its broadest sense in the Ontario section of the St. Lawrence River,” she said.

Jared Baker, a Field and Laboratory technician at the St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences, hard at work in one of the institution’s laboratories. — photo Francis Racine

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The Journal Cornwall


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

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